The return to nursing practice programme

The return to practice programme is a combination of classroom and placement-based learning. 

The hours you spend on placement will vary and be negotiated with you, depending how long you have been off the NMC register.  

The whole programme can take three to 12 months to complete. The university you choose will be able to provide further information. 

NMC requirements and re-registration

If you were a registered nurse but have had a break, you will need to meet a number of requirements to re-register with the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC), including completing a number of practice hours. If you have not completed the required number of practice hours you will have to complete an approved Return to Practice (RTP) programme before applying to re-join the register.

If your registration was removed by one of the NMC’s fitness to practise panels, you will have to apply for restoration to the register.

Throughout the programme you will develop a portfolio that demonstrates your skills. The portfolio will be sent to the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) to record the completion of your return to practice programme and your re-registration.

Courses available across the country

Led by supportive tutors, assessors and supervisors, there are approximately 30 courses available across the country, all created to refresh your nursing skills so that you’re ready to return to practice.

A proportion of your programme will be based at a university, with the tutors working with you to support your learning experience.

The remainder of the time will be spent on a clinical placement, where a mentor will work with you to record your competence in clinical skills. The university will source a suitable practice placement for you.

There are also a number of universities running RTP programmes in general practice nursing in London, the North East, North West, South West and West Midlands regions of England.

In Thames Valley, Wessex, Sussex and Surrey there are currently no specific Return to general practice nursing courses. However, support networks are in place in these areas to enable students to go through a GP practice with general practice nursing support. You should contact the universities running the RTP nursing programmes to find out more.

Numeracy skills

If you are considering a return to practice course and are concerned about your numeracy skills, you can contact the course provider or employer to find out what assessment and support may be available.

Additional support

If you have a long term health condition and/or a disability you may be able to access additional support and funding. Find out more on the Government and Diversity and Ability websites.

Other routes back to practice

Another route back into nursing and midwifery is the NMC test of competence. Launched in January 2020, it involves an online test and an Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE). Like the return to practice course, this route is also funded by the NHS.

More information on the test of competence including information on how to apply is available on the NMC website.

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